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August 15, 1945. Raising the front page of Stars & Stripes, American military personnel gather in Paris to celebrate the end of the War.

Post War America - A Country United in Spirit and Purpose

FDR signing the G.I. Bill
In 1944, before the end of the War, Congress passed and President Roosevelt signed the momentous GI Bill. It provided returning veterans with help getting employment, unemployment insurance until they did, tuition for college or technical school, help with a home mortgage or starting a business. The country entered into a new era of prosperity. Tens of thousands of the career professionals and successful business people in second half of the Twentieth Century had obtained their education through the GI Bill.

The March of Dimes

In response to an epidemic of Polio, and having been crippled by the disease himself, Franklin Roosevelt founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (Polio) in 1938. In a pre-television age, when Americans got their news from newspapers and the radio, all movie theaters ran short newsreel clips known as the March of Time. While promoting a fundraising campaign for Roosevelt's foundation, popular radio personality Eddie Cantor coined the term "March of Dimes." The White House was inundated with bags of mail filled with letters containing dimes. After the war, volunteers all across the country organized drives in every community. All Americans old enough now to remember those years remember giving dimes. It was a time of unity and good will across this great land. America was a country that had pulled together to win the war and pulled together after the war to defeat Polio. Millions of dimes added up and covered hospital treatment for the victims and research that ultimately produced the Salk vaccine. Most young people today have never heard of Polio, but in the late 1940's and early 1950's it struck a note fear and sympathy in all families. After defeating the Axis Powers, Americans successfully defeated the dreaded disease.
March of Dimes
There is a reason why Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been immortalized on every American 10-cent coin since 1946. The March of Dimes lives on as a public charity; Polio is history, except in two or three countries, where it has yet to be completely eradicated.
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I look at the faces in the photo at the top of this page, and I know that in the four years that followed their return home, each one of them would be organizing a community drive to collect dimes. This web site and every American-Tribute web site I build is a tribute to these Americans.
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Variety Children
March 20, 1950. A photographer for the Miami Herald got a shot of a 3-1/2 year-old Polio victim being transferred to a new special hospital that opened that day. The following day, this photo made the front page. The news was that the Miami chapter of a charitable organization of theatre owners called the Variety Club had raised money to open a hospital devoted to taking care of Polio kids. Fifteen kids in various states of paralysis had been transferred. I was one of them…. a fact not known to me until I came across a box of papers including newspaper clippings, telegrams, and letters after my folks had passed away. The Variety Club and the March of Dimes covered the expense. My dad was able to cover only a small part of it. Most people didn't have health insurance in those days.
Nicklaus Children

The spirit lives on

The tiny hospital that started in 1950 with me and 14 other kids has grown to be the world-class Miami Childrens Hospital, renamed in recent years after Jack Nicklaus, a major benefactor and fund raiser.
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As I think about my first year of facing life with a serious handicap I cannot help but see my childhood self as being in the warm embrace of a caring nation.
It really was the whole country that contributed to my care, and as a result, I have had a very good life. My feeling of gratitude is profound. If parts of this web site seem a bit emotional, I just hope you will understand why.

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How I reached Miami 68 years ago

from an island off the northern coast of Venezuela…with the goodness of the American People.
Pan American Airlines
Pam American Airlines
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I found the newspaper clipping in a box of papers my mother left behind after she died. It helped me to fill in a little of my history that had become only a vague memory of wheel chair races in the hallways. Click on image to enlarge.
Photographer Joseph A. DeCaro of Fanwood, New Jersey took this picture for the local paper. Front and center is Larry McKenzie, age 12, national poster boy for the March of Dimes. At right, 7-year-old Billy Schuster is presenting Larry with a piggy bank filled with dimes. In the background, Edward Whalen, chairman of the local March of Dimes drive looks on. On the left with a leg brace and crutch is…. me. Six months in the second specialized hospital paid for by local fundraisers and the American people provided the therapy that would get me walking again.
Children's Country Home, Mountainside, NJ and current home of the Children's Specialized Hospital Foundation
The Children's Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ
Click on image to enlarge.
The original building of the Children's Country Home is still there in Mountainside, New Jersey. I visited in 2013 and saw children still getting the same kind of therapy that I received. Polio is gone in this country, but children continue to suffer from disease and injury. There I met Phil Salerno who heads the foundation that raises funds to run the hospital. I believe that Phil and the good people who work with him exemplify the same spirit that characterized America in 1950.
Because of Phil's amazing work over the years this once-tiny hospital has grown to the world-class Children's Specialized Hospital with a gleaming new building in New Brunswick. It is very reassuring to know that this great American spirt lives on.
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This site is part of the American Tribute Online project. It is not a commercial site, and it is not associated with any museum or other organization. The purpose of the project is to celebrate our American heritage and provide an online resource for showcasing the America that we can all be proud of.
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